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Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers/Improve my subordinate's performance

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Question
Dear Lora,

I'm a finance manager of a small company and I have 8 staffs working with me. there is one assistant manager who fortunately got promotion before I took this job. the reason that she got promotion is because she stay with this company longer than any other. but she is still too young and lack of experience to be assistant for example she doesn't have management skill, like time management, job priority setting or communication skill, she can't explain or express the idea. I tried to talk to her what the team wants and what she should improve. after one year, she still tell me she hasn't know how to do it. I don't know how I can train her any more. because the other staff whose position below her perform better than her.

could you please suggest how I could train her. thank you so much for your help.

Warm regards,
Jane

Answer
Dear Jane -

Without knowing more about your company policies, opportunities for training, human resource management practices, your management skills and styles as well as those of your subordinate - I can't begin to give you a complete or specific answer to your question.  However, here are some general tips for helping your subordinates improve performance.

First, as the manager, you can help prioritize and focus on specific skills for improvement.  Which areas and skills are critical to success and which should be addressed first?  You have made a long list of areas for improvement for this employee including:

1)  management skills
2)  time management
3)  priority setting
4)  communication skills

Secondly, what management tactics have you tried with the employee in the past that have worked and what have you tried that doesn't work?  If your tactics are not working, are you willing or able to try something different to help this employee succeed?  You say you have tried to talk to the assistant manager about what the team wants and what she should improve.  What other management or communication strategies have you tried?

I can tell you that most employees will perform better when they can set specific, measurable, and time sensitive goals in cooperation with their manager.  A plan for improvement - based on input from the employee as well as feedback from the manager and/or team - is more likely to lead to success for the employee.  Have you asked this assistant manager what she would like to improve and what she would need to progress?    

Finally, the manager and employee should schedule regular times to check in and evaluate progress and the plan for improvement.  This should be a comfortable, cooperative, and supportive meeting and environment. Given the list you have outlined for this employee, short intervals such as once a week or once every two weeks might be best to start.  Managers often wait until there is a problem or complaint before meeting with a subordinate to improve performance.  Employees may change problem behaviors under stress but they are more likely to develop skills, improve performance, expand learning, and make proactive and creative contributions to the team when they receive routine support and positive guidance from management.

As a general rule -  connection, relationship, and honest dialogue between manager and subordinate - create the foundation for improving skills and performance.  Cooperative goal setting, specific planning, and regular progress checks create the structure for successful outcomes.

Please let me know if there is anything more specific that would be helpful to your situation.

Kind regards,


Lora Banks, PCC
Professional Certified Coach

Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers

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Lora Banks

Expertise

I can answer questions about how to build better relationships with bosses, coworkers, and employees. I can also answer questions about how to create more positive and productive work environments through communication skills, team-building, leadership development, and relationship building techniques.

Experience

I am a certified professional executive coach, corporate trainer, and leadership development consultant. I specialize in helping individuals and groups deal with interpersonal "hot spots" or difficult issues. I frequently facilitate conflict resolution and often work with a partnership or team before a full blown conflict erupts to coach people to proactively create positive work cultures.

Organizations
International Coach Federation North Bay Coaches Association

Publications
The Coach Approach Blog at www.lorabanks.com

Education/Credentials
Instructor in Coaching and Leadership - San Jose State University Certificate in Leadership - Co-Active Space Certified Professional Coach - The Coaches Training Institute and John F. Kennedy University Instructor in Business Communications - U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Business B.S. Business - U.C. Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
McKesson Corp. YAHOO! San Jose State University Prudential California Realty Relocation Directors Council San Francisco Dental Society ReMax Realty MBR Coaching Other industry assignments have included finance, venture capital, real estate development and finance, medical research and development, software, industrial and sales.

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